Happy Wednesday sports fans! It's Chris Bengel back in the saddle with you.
Here we go again with the Maple Leafs.. The narrative of Toronto not being able to make it out of the opening round is certainly going to be alive and well after a dreadful Game 1 performance. The Maple Leafs fell behind 3-0 in the first period, and were just never able to recover.
All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
- The Pick: Nuggets -8.5 (-110)
- Key Trend: The Nuggets are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games.
The Nuggets dominated the Timberwolves in Game 1, and with them still holding the home court advantage, I don't expect that narrative to change for Game 2.
As a team, the Nuggets shot 45.6 percent from the field and drilled 41.9 percent (16-of-39) of their attempts from beyond the arc in Game 1. The Timberwolves shot just 37.0 percent on the night, while Anthony Edwards (18 points) and Karl-Anthony Towns (11 points) were the only two starters that finished the game in double figures. Denver's defense forced 11 turnovers and out-rebounded Minnesota 54-38, including 11 on the offensive glass. That's a big deal, considering that the Timberwolves have Ruby Gobert and Towns.
Will the Timberwolves make some adjustments? Yes, of course. However, I don't think it will stop the Nuggets, who are such a balanced offensive unit. Heck, MVP candidate Nikola Jokic only scored 13 points and only hoisted up 12 shots when it was all said and done in Game 1. Jokic can simply just be the facilitator with guys like Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. shouldering the scoring load. I'm not expecting another 29-point loss, but I do believe that the Nuggets will win this one by double-digits at the very least.
💰 More Picks
Wild at Stars, 9:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN2
The Pick: Stars (-160) -- Despite a deflating Game 1 loss, I still am very much on the Stars bandwagon. I'm expecting a bounce-back effort from Dallas in Game 2.
The Stars had every chance to end Game 1 during the two overtime periods, they just couldn't solve goalie Filip Gustavsson. I think it was just a case of bounces not going the Stars' way. Still, this Dallas team is way too talented to drop back-to-back games on their home ice.
This is a very potent offense that averaged 3.41 goals-per-game (seventh in the NHL) throughout the regular season. While the Wild are clearly a very dangerous team at times, they're not on the same level as the Stars. Yes, it's likely that Joe Pavelski won't play after getting knocked out of Game 1 due to a hit from Matt Dumba. But even without Pavelski, the Stars have the offensive weapons across their top three lines to win this one.
Key Trend: The Stars are 6-1 in their last seven games
Lakers at Grizzlies, 7:30 p.m. | TV: TNT
The Pick: Austin Reaves Over 15.5 Points (-131) -- The Lakers shocked the world in Game 1 as they took down the Grizzlies on the road. LeBron James and Anthony Davis were both strong in the win, but one of Los Angeles' role players really rose to the occasion: Austin Reeves.
Reeves scored 23 points on an extremely efficient 8-of-13 shooting performance, including a trio of threes. In addition, Reeves netted 14 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter to really help push the Lakers across the finish line. The rookie guard was locked in from the perimeter against a Grizzlies team that defended the three well during the regular season with opponents registering just a 35.5 percent clip (ninth in the NBA). I expect him to continue to be an integral part of the Lakers' offense.
Key Trend: Reaves has scored at least 16 points in five of his last six games